Ah, menopause—that special time in a woman’s life that marks the end of her menstrual periods.
Each person experiences menopause differently, but most (not so eagerly) anticipate that they will encounter common symptoms like hot flashes, irritability, trouble sleeping, and vaginal and urinary tract changes. This is true! But there are also quite a few misconceptions about menopause that we hear during appointments with patients. Let’s dive in.
Your periods will stop automatically
Contrary to popular belief, your periods won’t just stop without warning. It’s common to begin noticing your periods are a bit different than usual. They may be heavier or lighter and can vary in length. Some women will notice their periods are inconsistent; they’ll skip a period one month and have it the next.
You won't have a sex drive
Sex over 50 can be very pleasurable, and women can still have wonderful sex lives even when going through menopause. However, if you are experiencing problems during sex such as vaginal dryness, for example, don’t assume that’s just par for the course now. Your provider can recommend some over-the-counter products and prescription medicine that will help with any potentially painful sexual intercourse you may experience as a side effect of menopause.
You can't get pregnant
It IS possible to become pregnant when going through menopause. The telltale menopause symptoms (like irregular periods and hot flashes) are not immediate indications of no longer being able to conceive. Only after one full year without a period, when you are considered “through menopause,” you can no longer become pregnant. When entering the postmenopausal stage, your hormone levels will change, stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs.
Although one may not be able to conceive, there’s still the risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, when having unprotected sex at any age. It is imperative to practice safe sex and use a condom.
There's no relief from the symptoms
Menopause is an incredibly normal process and is part of womanhood. Although it’s not a “disease” that needs treatment, there are options for relief from the more unpleasant symptoms. It’s important to keep your provider informed of your menopause journey, as she or he will provide treatment options that focus on alleviating signs and symptoms, as well as help manage any chronic conditions that align with aging. That being said, not all women will encounter the need for treatment during this stage in life.
Starting your period at a young age means early menopause
Although that seems like a logical statement, it’s not factual. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women typically go through menopause around 51 years of age. Whether you started your period at 10 or 16, it’s likely that menopause will begin in your early fifties.
And our final myth? Menopause is all bad! Menopause certainly gets a bad rap, but we think it can also be a time of renewal, and a celebration of the next phase in life. Admittedly, it does come with some challenges, but these are temporary bumps in the road. Talk about your current symptoms with your provider — he or she will help you make the most of this stage.
Share this post